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    Understanding Resource Management in ISO 9001

    Have you wondered, as I have, why the section on Resource Management is included in the ISO 9001 requirements for Quality Management Systems? Does this seem to go further than you expect in defining what is required in a Quality Management System? Like you, I have looked at this and have come to a conclusion: this set of requirements defines a “Business Management System.” This is a phrase used by some companies, and one that I prefer to use, for what is defined in ISO9001, rather than some sort of subset of a business that would be labeled “Quality.” For years, some people have seen a QMS as belonging to the quality department, and not really part of how management makes the business run. Somehow these were unrelated, but starting with the 2000 version of ISO 9001, this changed.

    How Resource Management fits with changes to Business Management

    The changes in the standard started interpreting the Quality Management System as a more holistic thing, rather than just how a product is made, and it started bringing in the importance of having Top Management involved in a QMS if it is to work well. Along with the responsibilities of management, came some definition of what is required for management to ensure that the Management System (call it “Quality” or “Business,” as you wish) has what it needs to function and improve – in other words, the management of resources.

    Provision of Resources

    The first section on Resource Management talks about the two reasons that the standard includes these requirements: the organization needs to identify and then assign resources to implement, maintain and improve the Quality Management System and to enhance customer satisfaction through meeting customer requirements. Then, there are the following three categories of resource that need to be included in order to ensure this is in place:

    1) Human Resources. It is often said that people are a company’s most valuable resource, and this is re-iterated with Human Resources as the first area of discussion in this section of the ISO 9001 standard. The standard emphasizes that people performing work need to be competent, and this is judged through a combination of education, training, skills and experiences that are needed, by the company’s definition, in order to adequately do an assigned job. The standard then discusses how Competence, Training and Awareness are used to assure this in your QMS. Here I have discussed the role of Competence, Training and Awareness and how these can be used instead of documenting every single process in the QMS: Using Competence, Training and Awareness to replace documentation in your QMS.

    2) Infrastructure. If you see the requirements of ISO 9001 as trying to define a whole Business Management System, it is easy to see that it is important to ensure the control of the physical resources needed to meet the requirements of your product or service. These include things like buildings, utilities, IT infrastructure (hardware & software), equipment, and even things like transportation and communication. The standard is making the company think of what physical resources are required to make sure that they can not only create their product or service, but also to deliver it to meet customer needs.

    3) Work Environment. This last section deals with the conditions in which you perform the work of your business, and mandates that the company identify what is needed to meet requirements and to manage the environment as necessary. This will include things such as needing temperature and humidity controls where they are required by a process, adequate light where this is needed (such as physical inspections), how you will deal with weather if this affects your product or service, and how do you control things like noise from your processes.

    Aligning Resource Management with Improvement Goals in your QMS

    The best reason to integrate Resource Management into your system is to better realize the benefits that are presented when you analyze the data gathered as part of the Quality Management System. The ISO 9001 Quality Management System is developed to use data gathered to make necessary changes to improve the individual processes, and in doing so, to improve the effectiveness of the system as a whole. The only way to make sure this happens effectively is to align the goals of the QMS with the assignment of resources to make them happen. Only then can the best improvements occur.

    Click here to see a free sample of  Procedure for Competence, Training and Awareness.

    Advisera Mark Hammar
    Author
    Mark Hammar
    Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality, and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.